The National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter, representing over 2700 members supports SB 903 and encourages the Public Health Committee to favorably report the bill.
SB 903 will strengthen the educational requirements for eligibility to attain the license of Licensed Professional Counselor. Of particular importance it will require specific coursework in mental health. The added coursework includes the critically important areas of trauma and crises counseling, addiction and substance abuse, and diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders. The current requirement has a limited number of basic areas that does not guarantee that the professional counselor is adequately educated in mental health.
The experiential hours required are also greatly improved by SB 903. Currently there is no requirement for a field work course in a behavioral health setting. SB 903 institutes a 600 hour internship within a behavioral health counseling setting. Such experience is most important to preparing the professional counselor as a provider of mental health services.
Master level trained professionals provide the bulk of mental health services in Connecticut. As of 2014 (latest figures available) DPH licensed 2,236 Professional Counselors, this being the second largest mental health profession, next to Social Workers at 6,915. Given the significant number of Licensed Professional Counselors it is imperative that the training and experience to be a Licensed Professional Counselor become strengthened in the practice of behavioral health.
The additional requirements in SB 903 will lead to an enhanced degree of care experienced by consumers who are receiving the services of a Licensed Professional Counselor. The stronger requirements for licensure of SB 903 is clearly of benefit to consumers of mental health services.